This past Monday at Wheaton College our chapel speaker was Phil Vischer, co-creator of VeggieTales. He had an awe-inspiring testimony of how a dream of his died through financial bankruptcy and how he saw God replace that dream with Himself. You may also know Phil as the founder of Big Idea Productions and the voice of Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, and a host of other veggie characters. For some reason his presentation made me hungry for more.
He shared that during the time of his greatest disappointment, his mom gave him a cassette tape (do you remember those?) of a sermon titled “When a Dream Dies.” The pastor was preaching on Elisha and the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4; how God gave her a son and then how the boy died when he was older. In her grief, she sent for Elisha who came and miraculously brought the boy back to life. The speaker’s application was that God wants us to let go of our dreams so that we will find that He is all that we need. Vischer found this lesson transformational.
The Shunammite’s story is very similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac, when God wanted Abraham to lay his dream-son on the altar. Was it really to test Abraham to see if he loved the Giver more than the gift? I have heard that taught. However, don’t you think that God already knew Abraham’s heart like he knows ours? I think the issue was that Abraham didn’t know his own heart. Thus I believe that God may allow our dreams to die in order to reveal to us what is in our hearts, something we would never know apart from our dreams being dashed. CS Lewis said that “he who has everything has nothing more than he who has God alone.” We must not pant after our dreams, but we must learn to pant after God. The most important thing is to hold God as the most important thing.
Phil Vischer has now started a company called Jellyfish Labs, which produces new faith-based projects for kids and families. He chose the jellyfish as his business moniker because the creature has no means of locomotion and must be carried along by the current. It is not that Vischer has given up taking initiative for the future, but he is more intentional about being obedient to what God wants him to be doing today. And for that he has learned to wait on his knees. He used to believe the mantra that God can’t steer a parked car. Now he believes that he must “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7).
So if your dream has died, do not think that it is the end. It may be the beginning of an entirely new understanding of yourself and a deeper sense of the sufficiency of God. It could also lead to a new dream.